Homeopath and teacher Rudi Verspoor has for some time been writing and teaching about Romantic Science and Healthcare. He has written extensively in the past about homeopathy and Dr. Hahnemann’s complete medical system, called Heilkunst, such as in the extensive analysis of his writings found at . He also wrote a number of articles for a past issue of this magazine about Heilkunst and what it encompasses. He founded a school called the Hahnemann College for Heilkunst in 2001 and has now also started a school called The School for Romantic Healthcare, operated through the Center for Romantic Science and Healthcare:
AS: Given your long history with homeopathy and Hahnemann’s writings, both as analyst and practitioner, is it fair to say that Romantic science and healthcare has something to do with Hahnemann’s work and teachings, or is this something very different?
RV: It has a great deal to do with Hahnemann’s work and teachings. Hahnemann is not, despite the prevailing view, an erratic boulder on the landscape of his times (and since). Hahnemann’s achievements are an integral part of a wide-spread and influential cultural movement of his day, directly involved in a profound philosophical, scientific and medical re-evaluation and reform, known as Romanticism. While it may be ‘romantic’ to see and present Hahnemann as a lone wolf, a brave voice in the wilderness fighting for medical reform against a decadent and corrupted establishment, it is neither accurate, nor helpful in arriving at a full appreciation of Hahnemann’s genius. Part of the problem right off is the very term ‘romantic’ itself. It has been reduced in general usage to candlelight dinners, roses, chocolates, and other aspects of modern courtship. This is not what is meant by the term romantic when applied to the broad philosophical, scientific and cultural movement known as Romanticism.
Romanticism is the term given to a cultural movement at all levels of European society starting in the late 1700s that sought to establish a new philosophy and science of vital nature in order to understand the phenomenon of Life. While the achievements of the first Scientific Revolution regarding inert nature (Kepler, Galileo, Newton) and that of the Enlightenment regarding the use of the intellect and reason (mentation) were valued and accepted, the great minds of Germany and England in particular of that time started to question the validity of the simplistic application to vital nature of the methodology that had worked so well with inert nature.
The early attempts to explain life and living functions were unsuccessful and unproductive, and a general movement arose to try to answer the puzzling yet intriguing questions of life and death, sickness and health. Philosophy at the time distinguished between living or vital nature (natura naturans) and inert nature (natura naturata). And this attempt to penetrate into vital, not just inert, nature that constitutes the ‘romance’ as it were – seeking to get to the living essence of nature, beyond the outer appearances to the phenomenon itself (the basis at the philosophical level for German phenomenology). The Romantic impulse also came to a focus in the field of medicine, which was itself in a state of crisis, partly because the old Greek system of humoral pathology no longer seemed to work, and partly because it was seeking a way to incorporate the new findings of science as a new foundation for therapeutics.
Romanticism is grounded in a profound philosophy based on a hierarchy of dynamic polarities of powers, forces and energies that constitute life or vital nature, with a methodology based on this understanding. It is not vitalism, which is the rightly discredited notion of an abstract ‘vital force’ posited to explain what otherwise cannot be explained by a materialistic-mechanistic approach (derived from the inertial sciences). Vitalism is the mystical counterpart of materialism.
Romanticism was shaped and driven by many of the major figures of the time: Samuel Taylor Coleridge in England, Johan Fichte and Wolfgang von Goethe in Germany, along with Blumenbach and Schelling. In the field of medicine more specifically, we have in the forefront John Hunter, John Brown and Richard Saumarez on the English side, with Samuel Hahnemann and Andreas Röschlaub in Germany. There are various other figures, but these are the main ones. Around about 1795, German medicine entered a crisis, and into this crises emerged a dynamic approach to health and illness based on the earlier work of Dr. John Brown, The Elements of Medicine, undergoing several translations into German. Dr. Hahnemann’s insights and discoveries are very much a part of and in the spirit of that time of ferment and reform. The earlier works on physiology by Blumenbach on the Bildungstrieb or dynamic, generative power, in addition to the earlier German understanding of the Lebenskraft, and John Hunter’s earlier idea of the living principle, influenced Hahnemann’s own understanding of the dynamic aspects of life and disease. Goethe, the pre-eminent cultural figure and Romantic scientist of the time knew of and made various references to Hahnemann and his works. Hahnemann read and commented on Brown’s work, and incorporated many references that invoke Brown’s excitation theory of life and illness into his own works, notably the Organon.
The Romantic idea of life as a dynamic consisting of dualities, that is, polaric relations of powers, forces and energies rather than of matter, itself a product of such dynamic forces, is replete throughout Hahnemann’s system: a duality of disease (primary and secondary, or tonic and pathic), of the living power (generative and sustentive powers), of laws (similars and opposites), of organism (psyche and soma), of unique disease characteristics (thermal principle and state of mind); of natural versus artificial diseases; of disorder versus disease, etc. All of this has been set out in great detail before and is available for anyone to examine for themselves in The Dynamic Legacy: from Homeopathy to Heilkunst (). As well, a critical aspect of the romantic, that is, polaric nature of Hahnemann’s system is to be found in the much neglected, if not distorted and suppressed story of the use of dual remedies. This has been told in detail for the first time in a recent book, reviewed earlier in your magazine (http://soulknights.info/book-reviews/scandal-in-kothen-the-real-homeopathic-love-story-rudi-verspoor-and-steven-decker/) and available on Amazon.com – Scandal in Köthen: The Real Homeopathic Love Story.
What has not been set out in any way, much less in any detail, is the history of romantic science and healthcare. This is what I and Steven Decker, translator of the Organon, and also co-author of The Dynamic Legacy, have been researching for many years and what we are now teaching at the Center for Romantic Science, School of Romantic Science and Healthcare () There’s a lot more to tell, but to come back to the question, yes, Hahnemann is an integral part of Romantic science and medicine and cannot be appreciated to any real degree without an understanding of that important movement in Western history.
AS: Now that you’ve laid the philosophical groundwork, I wonder if you could explain how the Newtonian and Enlightenment mindsets manifest in society and medicine, and what would be different if the perspective of Romanticism prevailed.
RV: To properly answer that question, I first have to go back a ways in Western culture, to its origins in Ancient Greece, at least as far as philosophy and science is concerned. Classical Greek culture marked a break in the previous consciousness. Prior to the Greeks, consciousness was more akin to a partial dream state, and there was a form of direct being in or participation of the world, experiencing both its super (spiritual) and sub-sensible (elemental, dynamic) dimensions. In a dream state, subject and object don’t really exist, nor do the usual constraints of time and place of the waking consciousness.
The world prior to the Greeks, and even to a large extent throughout Greek culture itself, was not so much ‘out there’ as an object separate from one’s self, as a living experience that a person felt himself ‘inside’ of. Julian Jaynes in his famous work, The Origins of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind, documents that with the early Greek culture (as symbolized in the Iliad), there was no ‘mind’ as we know it, a single entity and distinct from body, but that one ‘thought’ with different parts or organ systems of the body – the Ancient Greeks had close to a dozen ‘mind words’ for different ways of participating in the world – kardia, psuche, phrenos, thumos, nous, etc. All of these are generally translated by the modern English word ‘mind’, but to the Greeks it made a difference if a person acted based on activation of the kardia (from whence our modern term cardiac) or the psuche (from whence our term psyche). Later, these individual elements came more and more to be integrated and form a focus, the nous, which itself had a polarity between its nether pole, which was able to take impressions from the natural world (which capacity the Medieval Scholastics termed the nous patheticos) and its upper pole, which was able to receive what Plato called Ideas (archetypal patterns) from the spiritual realm, which guided the mind of man to ‘see’ (theoria) the world around it.
At the same time, there was a new development: the emergence of a new rational capacity centered in the neural processing unit we call the brain, that operated through separation rather than participation, and epitomized in the Socratic Method – critical, dialectical, skeptical, able to dissemble a ‘thing’ into parts, but not able to comprehend the dynamic unity, nor to put that unity back together again once dissembled (the ‘Humpty Dumpy problem’ of materialism and mechanism). This resulted in the breakdown of what the anthropologist, Lévy-Brühl termed ‘participation mystique’, and the increasing separation of man from Nature and the Divine, to stand increasingly alone contra mundum (as symbolized by the second of Homer’s epics, the Odyssey). This increasing separation of man from world and the fading of the ancient participative capacity which provided the necessary wisdom (sophia) to guide and temper the excesses of the separative aspect stimulated the rise of philosophy (that is, the love – philo – or quest for the lost wisdom – sophia) and science (operating through the separative capacity, but irradiated by wisdom), giving us the ‘glory that was Greece’. The separative aspect of mind was taken over and developed in the Roman period, and termed the mens (from whence our term mental), while the noetic capacity that was the genius of Greece was increasingly neglected.
The Latinate mens, which proceeded to understand the world by creating an increasing separation – between man and world, mind and body, subject and object – came more and more to dominate, to the point that the famous battle within Medieval Scholasticism between the Nominalists and Realists ended with the triumph of the former, who beheld a world of objects that could only really be examined and understood from the outside, from their outer appearances. Out of this revolution of mind and consciousness Western philosophy and science was able to apprehend various laws of inert nature using mathematics and developing the science of physics or mechanics, both celestial and earthly. This produced what is known as the first Scientific Revolution (Kepler, Galileo, Newton), and has given rise to a world of machines and the manipulation of inert nature on an unprecedented scale. At the same time, these momentous discoveries of natural laws and principles operative under them as regards inert nature emboldened the European mind to think that this approach to science, using the intellect and reason (mentation) could uncover all of Nature’s mysteries as well as guide human action in the broader cultural realm. This gave rise to what is known as the Age of Reason or the Enlightenment, epitomized by the vast collection of ‘facts’ and ‘data’ about the world and collated in Encyclopedias. Behind all of this was also the problem of the seeming separation of ‘mind’ and ‘body’ or subject and object, thrust into prominence by Descartes (the famous Cartesian dualism).
The Enlightenment approached vital nature as it had approached inert nature. Living functions were seen as part of a mechanism that obeyed physical and chemical laws (those derived from inorganic chemistry). Mind was regarded as ‘merely’ the product of matter, or if not, entirely separate from it and to be disregarded as ‘subjective’ and not worthy of study except insofar as it could be according to physical or chemical laws and operation. However, this approach eventually broke down by the middle of the 1700s and also raised more questions than it answered. At the same time, Western philosophy, particularly in the person of David Hume, the most famous and influential philosopher of his time, was raising critical and disturbing questions as to how anything could actually be known, as the appearances were often deceiving and what seemed solid would, on closer examination, disappear like the Cheshire Cat, leaving only the mischievous grin of a Cosmic Joker. This problem of knowledge, which threatened to derail the very possibility of any true scientific knowledge at all, was tackled at the end of the 1700s by Immanual Kant in Germany. Kant had hoped to find a way out of the problem of objective knowledge about the world, but ended up confirming Hume’s relativism, declaring that the only solution was to assume ‘the transcendental unity of apperception’ and act within the world of objects and outer appearances, and to agree ab initio that this knowledge, though only a representation of the real world that could never be proven real, had to be treated as though it was accurate and truthful, an epistemological nihilism that still haunts science today.
At this point, two paths were possible: either to accept Kant’s ‘solution’ and to proceed further to apply the methodology of the inertial sciences to living functions, involving manipulation of matter either physically (surgery) or chemically (drugs); or, to reject this defeatist conclusion and undertake the challenge to find a different, dynamic methodology to approach and understand vital nature. Kant himself accepted that this second path was possible if highly improbable, and would amount to an ‘adventure of Reason’. The challenge posited by Kant was taken on at the end of the 1700s by those genial minds who came to form the Romantic movement in philosophy, science and medicine, including Hahnemann.
The new approach involved a different way of thinking leading to a different form of knowledge – a thinking that was participative, not separative, and could lead to knowledge about the ‘inside’ or essence of a thing, what Kant called the ‘thing-in-itself’ (Ding-an-sich), not just its outer appearances. This approach was famously developed in Germany by Goethe, who revived the ancient Greek noetic capacity of mind (which operated through an organ of knowledge called the Gemüt) with its different way of thinking (not the wissen or mentation of the Enlightenment but the participative denken, noetic ideation) and different form of knowing (kennen rather than wissen). English, unlike German, is hobbled by having only one term for thinking and one for knowing, relying on the context to supply what is meant – Do you know John? I know he is middle-aged, works at a bank and lives in a big house, etc. (objective data). Yes, but do you really know him (inner content, soul qualities, etc.)?). Coleridge in England drew out what he termed the Dynamic System and its philosophical (ontological, epistemological) underpinnings, just as Fichte was doing in Germany. Hahnemann is very much a part of this movement and tradition.
By about 1850-60, the mechanical-materialist paradigm prevailed, ushered in by Virchow’s cell theory and Pasteur’s germ theory, opening the door to pathology as tissue change, and physiology as just complicated chemical interactions, with the role of ‘medicine’ to cut out what Hahnemann termed the ‘offending matter’ (materia peccans) and try to correct the presumed chemical imbalance with agents acting based on their known or presumed chemical action. This was refined as the chemical industry emerged during and after the Second World War, giving us more and more powerful synthetic chemical agents (drugs).
This is not to say that Romantic science and medicine disappeared. Instead, this cultural impulse continued in the work of various individuals who cumulatively represent a growing stream of Romantic science in our time. While, like Hahnemann, each of these pioneers is seen as isolated, an erratic boulder, placed together in a coherent framework, they constitute a powerful advancement of Romantic healthcare in our day, and one in which the discoveries and insights of Samuel Hahnemann become all the more important and useful. It is these contributors, the descendants of the great minds of Romantic philosophy and science, that form the modern system of Romantic healthcare. The current natural health field is mired in empiricism and suffering from factionalism due to the lack of what Bacon termed the organizing idea that can provide the philosophical and scientific foundation for a true system of Western healthcare.
AS: Your answer stirred up so many ideas it’s difficult to know where to begin. It seems that the current reductionistic /mechanistic perspective is also the enemy of empathy and allows all manner of crimes to be committed without conscience. People who torture animals in research labs, sell toxic vaccines, or contaminate a nation’s food supply with GMO’s have this disconnect. The single minded pursuit of wealth, with unconscionable greed that destroys whole societies, would also seem an outgrowth of the current detached “way of knowing”.
RV: You raise a host of issues regarding mind and consciousness, which would take us far afield. But suffice it to say that the sundering of consciousness in Western culture, or the split within mind between the waking conscious part, the brain mind or mentation, which separates and divides in order to conquer nature, and the dream and somnambulistic part, the gut ‘brain’ or wisdom, which connects with and participates in nature, has made Western man schizophrenic (normatively, if not clinically), seeing ‘subject and object’, ‘mind and body’, ’science and religion’, etc. as divisions rather than simply distinctions. Being cut off from the very source of life and living more and more within our own intellect has made us ‘mental cases’ (again normatively if not clinically), and also materialists and mechanists, as the only world we can see is the world of outer forms, which is the shell of life, not life itself. This shell to a large extent obeys mechanical, physical laws and can be manipulated, giving the illusion of life (Frankenstein’s Monster), but it cannot provide access to and participation of life itself. A science and system of healthcare founded on inert nature cannot produce life and health, only its semblance.
Certainly, if we are to have a true science of life, of vital nature and not just a science of dead matter, of inert nature, and if we wish to have a true Western healthcare system that promotes life instead of the current degenerative system of disease management (see ‘Death by Medicine’ – ), we must look to Romantic philosophy, science and medicine, not just historically, but throughout its 220 years of development to the current day.
The problem we are up against is a very well-organized, highly sophisticated and deeply entrenched system constructed on the premise that the same methodology that was so successful in getting inert nature to reveal her secrets is also the key to the secrets of life and health. Science, which is in essence the methodical, rational study and explication of the world around us, as well as ourselves, has been reduced by this premise to material science. Science, the great discipline of the mind has been captured by a one-sided, one-eyed, color-blind way of looking at the world. Everything today is judged from the perspective of a mechano-materialist paradigm, and what doesn’t fit that paradigm (in the sense of Thomas Kuhn’s landmark work, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions) is deemed ‘subjective’, occult, un-scientific, nonsense, etc. As a result, we have no true life science.
Of course, Life cannot be denied, and over time a resistance movement has sprung up known as ‘natural health’. However, it is unorganized, often fragmented and internally divided, because it lacks a unifying, organizing thought or Idea (Plato), as Bacon rightly argued was necessary for any true science. Without such an organizing idea, the natural health field is like an oriental bazaar with each therapy, product, approach claiming to have the answers, or like a telephone directory, leaving it to the consumer to choose from a bewildering array of choices and claims, often contradictory. Without this secure foundation from which to tackle the citadel of materialist orthodoxy, skirmishes might be won, but most battles are lost and the war itself cannot be won. You cannot beat something with nothing. The American Revolution was won not so much on the battlefield as in the hearts and minds of the population, driven by a powerful idea, – ‘life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness’.
The problem is that most people today, even in the natural health movement, are really materialists or mechanists at heart, very much children of the age they live in, seeking to put an energetic gloss on the presumption of matter as the basis of reality, which is only the modern version of the rightly discredited vitalism of the 19th Century. For example, even in homeopathy the issue of the vital force or the dynamic nature of disease that is at the core of Hahnemann’s system, is not at all involved in or taken into account by the practitioner to arrive at the homeopathic medicine for a given case. It is a gloss that renders the rather mechanical process of repertorization somehow more ‘wholistic’ or ‘energetic’, but is not at all critical to that process. In many cases, people in the natural health movement overtly reject the materialist premise, but then throw the baby out with the bathwater, rejecting science and succumbing to mysticism and idealism. So nature and natural is always good and beneficent, and can never harm, and if we but think positive thoughts and meditate, we can eliminate disease. In homeopathy, this is expressed by the notion that all symptoms are the provenance of the homeopath and that there is one single remedy’ that will cure everything in a given patient, the fabled Simillimum.
Thus, resistance to orthodoxy is either to try to reform the system in some way, by working with and within, forming what is often referred to as ‘complementary medicine’, or to abandon the field altogether and create an alternate system, often referred to as ‘alternative medicine’. The first approach seeks to play the game of acceptance by the norms and rules of material science, such as incorporating allopathic ‘anatomy and physiology’ with a suitable ‘wholistic gloss’ into the curriculum (what we could call the ‘naturopathic’ model), and trying to get validation by means of the double-blind randomized clinical trial (which is itself deeply flawed). This cooperative approach to working with and within a paradigm that is inherently biased against living function only ends up in co-option, reducing the original genius and living core of a therapy or approach to a regulated adjunct to ‘real medicine’, and a mechanistic one at that, such as reducing acupuncture to a sometimes useful mechanism for pain relief or homeopathy as convenient for headaches and allergy relief, but not to be trusted in ‘real’ conditions such as cancer or cardio-vascular disorders. The second approach would abandon science altogether and simply proceed on the basis of empiricism – ‘it works; don’t ask us how it works, it just works, and if you try it, you’ll be convinced’. That might be an effective tactic for the individual practitioner and patient (‘winning skirmishes’), but it is not a useful strategy for establishing a true science of life and health (‘winning the war’).
Aside from emergency medicine (which is all we really are shown on the medical shows on TV and in the movies as to ‘the wonders of modern medicine’), and even there, only in a more restricted application, the allopathic model, built on the materialistic premise that life can be reduced to chemistry (‘Better Living Through Chemistry’ – DuPont), has become one of increasing costs and decreasing benefits. It is a system, like the science it is constructed upon, of entropy and degeneration. It is a modern system of blood-letting and sorcery (trying to burn or cut out some presumed ‘offending matter’), all the while only acting suppressively and adding to the already heavy burden of disease and decay coming from the other two branches of the modern chemical industry – Pharmaceuticals and Agro-industry, through the iatrogenic effects of the interventions, like a real life Death Star. This system can only be replaced by undermining the premise on which it stands and then offering in its place a coherent, rational system founded on a true science of vital nature, guided by a dynamic physiology, that actually eliminates disorders and disease, not just manages them. And that is what Romanticism does. It is a true revolution in science and healthcare.
The assumption of the Enlightenment and the current materialistic world-view, that life can be understood by the methodology of the inertial sciences, is itself wrong at its very base. Life, what is vital, cannot be understood from the perspective of what is dead and inert. While living organisms contain within them aspects that are subject to some degree to the laws and principles of inertial science (physics, chemistry), they cannot be fully understood through them. Vital nature requires another methodology from that for inert nature, and that is what Romanticism gives us. It is revolutionary, because it does nothing less than turn the scientific orthodoxy of the day on its head – rather than vital nature being considered the result of inert nature, what Coleridge called ‘the chance whirlings of unproductive particles’, Romanticism considers life to be the core and essence of reality, and, as such, the cause and determination of inert nature.
If we look closer to home, we also have to address a certain orthodoxy that presents a superficial and misleading, where it is not incorrect, account of what Dr. Hahnemann’s genius bequeathed to us. This so-called ‘classical’ account is itself a barrier to progress and integrating Hahnemann’s insights into a true Western healthcare system based on a science of vital nature and a dynamic physiology. Hahnemann’s system is a truly dynamic system based on polarities – of disease and remediation – that came to a head in what is known as the ‘Dual Remedy Affair’, a story that has been ignored where not suppressed. We have addressed this, based on the historical record, elsewhere as I have mentioned, and you have a review of it in your journal, but no one in the homeopathic community wants to or is willing to address it and its implications. We can criticize allopathic medicine with good reason, but we first need to look to the misrepresentations we have engendered and maintained, against all evidence (all set out for open viewing at ), regarding Hahnemann’s real system of medicine. It is this understanding that then allows us to connect Hahnemann with everything else going on in Romantic science and medicine, rather than simply seeing him as an erratic boulder. Hahnemann alone cannot provide a complete system of healthcare, but he is one of the two pillars of that system, if understood fully.
Once restored and properly set amidst the Romantic revolution, we can then begin to overcome the disaster of the current medical model and replace it with a viable and compelling system, one that has the capacity to integrate all the various facets of the natural health movement into a true whole, and one in which Dr. Hahnemann’s genius plays a critical role.
AS: The core of Romanticism as you said, is the concept that life is the “cause and determination of inert nature”, rather than the effect of inert nature. As this is so central to creating a revolution in science and medicine, can you articulate this idea further?
RV: We live in a material age, so that we can only really interact with and comprehend the outer material forms of things, not with the living internal essence, or what Kant termed the ‘thing-in-itself’ (Ding-an-sich). And even then we can only approach the outer forms mechanically, either purely and directly as the ‘chance whirlings of unproductive particles’ (materialism) or in an adulterated and indirect way, by positing some mystical vital force that supposedly animates the forms (mysticism). Approaching nature mechanically certainly is productive when applied to its inert aspect, which can be reduced to various mechanical laws (celestial and telluric mechanics or physics).
However, the error made by the modern mind, dominated by the intellect and largely cut off from the participative noetic capacity of the ancients (wisdom), has been to presume that the outer form (physical or inert nature) is primary and also preferable because quantifiable (‘objective’), via mathematics. As a result, the qualities of a ‘thing’ are deemed secondary, and because not open to the intellect alone working via the laws of inert nature, considered as personal and a matter of opinion or belief (‘subjective’). Philosophically, the Kantian solution to the Cartesian split of the Western mind, between that realm open to the physical senses and that realm not similarly accessible (from which our pejorative meaning to the term ‘non-sense’ or nonsense), and its correlative split between mind and body, object and essence, was to formalize this split as irreconcilable, and seek to preserve the one for science or public knowledge while leaving the second for faith or personal experience. Both realms, for Kant, are equally valid, but only one is judged open to scientific endeavour.
However, it is a science restricted to the laws and principles of inert nature and to the language of mathematics, based on the presumption that only knowledge of outer forms (matter) was valid and ‘scientific’ (‘objective’), the other type of knowledge being set aside as ‘occult’ (literally, outside what could be known). To the extent that qualities, such as consciousness, mind or life, exist, they are to be considered only the result of quantifiable aspects (inert nature), and their explication and understanding to be reduced to such aspects.
Where science is restricted to the science of inert nature, this results in a lack of any methodological approach to vital nature and living function, including the sub-sensible (dynamic) and super-sensible (spiritual) realms. Thus, the sphere of qualities has been reduced to a similar restriction, that of belief or religion (from the Latin ‘relegare’ meaning to tie or bind). This has set up in Western culture a false polarity and animosity between (material) science and religion, or between materialism and mysticism, with no room for a real science that encompasses all aspects of human experience, and most critically, the question of life, mind and consciousness.
The Romantic philosophers and scientists, however, had a much broader and more comprehensive view of science as a methodological, that is rational, approach to the study of nature as a whole, not just its inert realm, and refused to accept that the realm of vital nature was effectively off-limits to science. Kant himself had left open the possibility of a reconciling the two realms of nature, inert and vital, within science, though admitting that this would constitute quite an ‘adventure of reason’. It is precisely this adventure that Romanticism took on as its task. In so doing, Romanticism revealed that it was matter and outer form that were secondary or resultant, whereas the dynamic or living essence of a thing (Kant’s ‘thing-in-itself) was primary and causative – just the reverse of the way material science holds it to be. Living function determines form for all of nature. At the same time, their study of vital nature led them to understand that the causative agent was mind and consciousness, not dead matter, and that it was mind and consciousness that were evolving, not matter, which changes in response to changes in mind and consciousness. In essence, Western science and medicine were and are being stood on their head by Romantic science and healthcare. This aspect can be studied in more detail by reading the Wikipedia entries on Emergent Evolution ( ) and also Romanticism and Epistemology ( ).
From the perspective of Romantic healthcare, this means that there is a dynamic interplay between psyche and soma, with mental-emotional disturbances or traumas resulting in somatic symptomology, but disorders in the somatic realm (drugs, accidents, vaccinations) affecting the psychological realm, as Hahnemann himself documented in his writings. Equally, both disorders and disease, whether affecting the mind or the body initially and primarily, are of a dynamic nature. As Hahnemann taught, there is no morbid matter (materia peccans) that causes disease, but disease is rather a dynamic essence which may or may not take a bodily, material form (e.g., malaria in microbes transmitted by mosquitos, but also by the very damp, noxious vapour of swamps), and can only be removed by a dynamic remedial agent (applied on the law of similars), not by inert chemicals that drug a person and create their own diseases (iatrogenesis).
AS: You explained in other writings that a person can have multiple discrete diseases at the same time. Aside from requiring a methodological change in homeopathic practice, what are the broader implications of that?
RV: To be precise, I have explained, along with Steven Decker, that Hahnemann, in his writings, including the Organon itself, writes that a given individual can have two or more diseases at the same time. This is all laid out, as you have indicated, in our previous writings on Hahnemann’s medical system, notably The Dynamic Legacy: from Homeopathy to Heilkunst ().
Hahnemann is also the only one in Romantic science who had the insight that a disorder of the life force is distinct from a disease impingement because he also had a dynamic and polaric understanding of the living power or life force, between its sustentive and generative sides. While both disorders and disease are dynamic in nature, disorders involve the one side of the life force Hahnemann termed the sustentive or sustaining power. Disease acts rather on the generative side or power of the life force. Disorders are destabilizing (move away from homeostasis) and diseases are degenerative (a move away from palingenesis). Disorders can be corrected by therapeutic regimen, or the identification of a deficit or surfeit of a given element or nutrient (or complex) necessary for health and the adding or reducing of that element or complex to restore homeostasis. For example a deficiency of Vitamin D requires a sufficiency to bring this up to repletion. Diseases cannot generally be corrected by simply restoring homeostasis of the sustentive power, but must involve a medicinal agent that has the power to disturb the generative power of the life force (thus, Hahnemann termed the medicine, an ‘artificial disease agent’). Given that the sustentive and generative sides of the life force are in a dynamic unity, the weakening of the sustentive power can weaken the generative power, such that a susceptibility to a given disease agent arises. A disease, once contracted, degenerates the generative power further and this also weakens and undermines the sustentive power (reducing nutrients needed for healthy metabolism and vital function). Equally, a strengthening of the sustentive power via therapeutic regimen will increase the capacity to resist disease, as well as to heal after the removal of the disease (cure). And a removal of disease further strengthens the sustentive power so it more easily resists disorders from disturbances in one’s environment and eventual disease.
Where disease is the specific province of Hahnemann, the more general and overarching theory of health and sickness is found in the writings of his contemporary, Dr. John Brown (Elements of Medicine). While Brown has been largely misunderstood and ignored, his writings are profound and far-reaching in scope. He is the other pillar of Romantic healthcare. He established that life was not a mystical thing above nature, but the product of the action of stimuli (external and internal) on the potential for life (stimulability) inherent in each organism. Health or the optimum degree of life at any point, comes, according to Brown, from the optimal quantity and quality of resonant stimuli at all levels (spirit, soul, mind and body). Should these be deficient, a direct weakness or hyposthenia results, and should these be in excess, we become indirectly weak (though seemingly highly active), a state of hypersthenia. When either state or disorder, involving the sustentive power of Hahneman, becomes extreme, we then can develop a susceptibility to an impingement of the generative power, and contract a disease via the myriad of dynamic disease agents around us, which would not be a threat to a healthy (eusthenic) individual.
Now, the determination of an excess or deficiency of a given or a complex of stimuli needed for health, optimal life, is not an easy thing to ascertain, as dynamic physiology and biochemistry is quite complex, each aspect interacting with many others, so that simple additions or subtractions of nutrients can lead to further imbalances and potentially, disorders. This aspect has been worked on since Dr. Brown’s time and involves both genetics and bio-chemical individuality (Roger Williams), as well as various sophisticated tests and formulas worked out by individual researchers over the last few decades.
To summarize, Romantic healthcare brings a scientific revolution in our understanding of life and health. It is founded on a true science of life, seeing the nature of life and the living principle as the dynamic interaction of polaric powers, forces and energies, not the ‘chance whirling of particles’. It has an understanding of this living principle that is antithetical in nature and involves the interaction between stimuli (both external and internal) and stimulability (potential for life) within an organism, which gives rise to stimulation or activity (actualization of potential). The living power further consists of the dynamic interaction of two sides: that of the sustentive or sustaining power, which maintains homeostasis, but can suffer from imbalances, that if sustained lead to disorders that need to be corrected. It is this sustentive power that is involved in healing. Disorders can go all the way from the psyche to the soma, and at the somatic level, work their way down into the biochemistry, which level must be understood both through various biochemical typologies and polarities (work by Williams, Watson, Eck, Wolcott, D’Adamo, Schenker, Reams) as well as at the level of individuality (Sherry Rogers), and also bring in the most recent discoveries at the genetic level (based on work regarding the human genome and the effects of mutations and genetic polymorhpism on metabolism). Romantic healthcare also incorporates the interaction between genes and environmental signals (epigenetics), which is grounded in Brown’s insight into the importance of resonant or ‘agreeable’ stimuli for optimum health of the true self, rather than what seems attractive to and feeds only the false ego.
There is an understanding that disorders, if not corrected through remedial measures based on the law of opposites (drawing from the panoply offered by the natural health field, but in an organized way according to proper jurisdiction), create vulnerabilities in the generative side of the living power, which makes one susceptible to impingements by various disease agents (pathogens, accidents, traumas, drugs, vaccinations). A disease, once contracted or acquired, cannot be removed except by the action of a medicinal agent according to the law of similars (curative action), but full restoration of health depends on the healing reaction of the sustentive power. Disease has a dual aspect: there are primary, fixed nature diseases, and there are the secondary, variable nature diseases spun off from them in a given organism. The secondary or pathic diseases have to be addressed through the symptom complex they produce, which is the basis for homeopathic prescribing. The primary or tonic diseases, however, are generally removed by identifying the immediate cause, such as a contusion, an emotional shock, a drug or vaccination, and the relevant specific medicine for such diseases given, usually a nosode or isode or a specific such as Arnica for contusion disease, Natrum mur for unresolved grief, Prednisone for prednisone, etc. There are also transient and intransigent, acute and chronic, epidemic and endemic disease classifications, a complex nosology. Romantic medicine also includes the understanding of diseases brought into the world on birth (chronic miasms), and the need to treat for them systematically, as so many ailments are caused by them.
It also presents a more complex understanding of causality. A given symptom may have different causes and the same cause can produce different symptoms in different individuals. There are also different levels of causation, drawing from Hahnemann (and Aristotle) – the exciting cause, the active cause, the directive and the authoritative or final cause. Thus, while a given pain may be ‘caused’ by inflammation, the inflammation itself may be caused by bad eating habits that create toxins and immune reactions, which themselves are caused by false beliefs regarding what is healthy (e.g., eating polyunsaturated oils instead of saturated ones), which ultimately results from ignorance or lack of truth (science). The essence of Romantic science is to get past the ego-based, belief-ridden world of both conventional and so-called ‘natural’ healthcare and put therapeutics on a firm scientific foundation, where each truthful aspect of a given approach is recognized and placed in (but also confined to) its true jurisdiction and applied according to natural law principles. Thus, while Vitamin C supplementation is justified where there is a deficiency of Vitamin C, large doses of Vitamin C to remove a given symptom or symptoms is not justified, risking creating its own imbalance within the complex metabolism. Equally, not all symptoms of the patient can be ascribed to disease and taken into account in homeopathic prescribing. As Hahnemann himself noted, the patient must first be treated using regimen to remove imbalances and related symptoms, so that the ‘clear image’ of the disease can then be rightly seen. Further, the dynamic physiology of living functions opens up understanding beyond the cellular aspects of the organism to take into account the extra-cellular matrix (humoral system). These examples can be multiplied easily. At the same time, there is also a place for using medicines ‘anti-pathically’ (conventional approach), as Hahnemann himself recognized, so that there are occasions where antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, anti-psychotics are justified and when used within these jurisdictions, and doses calibrated to the sensitivity of the patient, can be beneficial. Instead of a conventional system of disease management, which ignores regimen, and instead of a ‘natural health movement’ focused solely on regimen, but which is fractured and divided, we can have a comprehensive system of healthcare grounded in law and principle that promotes life and health.
AS: Thank you Rudi for sharing with us today. You’ve introduced important concepts about “knowing” , that should stimulate serious thought. I encourage readers to visit and the other links listed throughout this interview.